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It's Only Money

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – It's Friday so "It's Only Money," a review of the big and not-so-big stories of the week. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Midday.

What a nice surprise, unemployment fell in the month of January. After the seasonal adjustment, retail and construction saw the biggest rise in employment. Why do I never get this? Now, I realize that "seasonally adjusted" means just that. But retail and construction in January? Well, the national unemployment rate is now at 5.7%, down from 6%. But here's another glitch: in December, 100,000 jobs were lost. Today, the Labor Department revised that number. It was 156,000 jobs that were lost. I don't know if you've noticed, but they revise this number every month and it's never in our favor.

By race, it's still whites that have the lowest unemployment rate at 5.1%. Blacks, the highest at 10.3%. The good news - that's down from December's 11.2%. And if your teenager whines about having a really difficult time finding a job, believe 'em. Their unemployment rate is 16.8%. You might have to up their allowance. Nah!

The U.S. Treasury has a real dilemma: maneuver the books or ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Pre-Enron, they probably would have used the several bookkeeping schemes they have available. Instead, President Bush needs to go to Congress and ask for a higher limit. The Treasury announced on Wednesday that the statutory limit of $6.4 trillion is expected to hit around February 20th. On Tuesday, the debt was $6.34 trillion. That's only $60 billion to go, and we can blow that in no time. Now I don't feel so bad about my little credit card debt. For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to